Where you stay, and the staff you encounter, can make or break an experience. And although Montego Bay seemed to be more of a stop-over either when arriving or departing the island rather than a destination, the staff at the S Hotel alone made me want to return.
The S Hotel Montego Bay (https://www.crissahotels.com/s-hotel-jamaica/) really is a stunner. It definitely has that South Beach vibe, which I don’t think is a bad thing, especially since they’ve retained their Jamaican heritage through design, the food, and even the music and posters throughout the property. The hotel is stark-white with hints of black in the rooms and more pops of red and black in the public areas, offering a calm respite to hot days, the grey pop-up showers in the afternoons, or even the often-seen sunburnt guest. Views of the ocean and the pool are stunning and if you can swing it, the top, 6th floor, has access to the Sky Deck and the Sky Lounge.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many locations were closed or we were just not available to guests of the property. But in all honesty, that was just fine with me; Chef Matthew is stellar and a real find for the hotel! His food was outstanding and as a vegetarian, he met with me nightly and seemed to enjoy the challenge of making an outstanding and varied meal every evening. One of the biggest let-downs for any vegetarian is receiving the un-inspired grilled vegetable platter or the quinoa and vegetables that we can make ourselves at home: not with Chef Matthew. And as you’ll know from other posts, I’m not a fan of eating at hotels as I like to get out and explore but I was happily ensconced at the S Hotel and literally looked forward to Chef Matthew’s creations daily.
Because of its proximity to the airport, I’m really not sure there is that much to do in Montego Bay. There are a number of high-end all-inclusive resorts nearby so if that’s your thing, do it. Regardless, I do hope to return when the world returns to normal and explore more fully. In the interim, I will say that although Doctors Cave Beach is cute, it is also incredibly small and rather crowded. (I chose to remain at the pool at the S Hotel.)
I don’t do this often but I do feel that an addition note when traveling to Jamaica is warranted. Bring cash. Many things are cash-only and the expectation to tip – whether when using the VIP service at the airport, or tipping at the resort bar (regardless of being all-inclusive), or getting food on the beach, you will need cash. And lots of it. I always have cash with me but honestly didn’t realize the amount that was really required and was on the verge of being ill-prepared. And although ATMs exist, they are rather few and far between (literally).